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Homeownership

Why a $1,490 home is a complicated purchase

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Homeownership is still out of reach for some buyers given the down payments and fees, but what if you could buy a place for less than it costs to rent?

home

It’s no secret that the housing market is a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. When you hear that a house is listed for sale at $1,490 (really!), your first thought might be, “that price is missing a few zeros;” I thought the same thing as well. It seems like such a ridiculously low price for a home, there must be an error, right? Wrong. There really is a house listed for $1,490.

The 580 square foot home is located in Washington D. C. It has one bedroom, one bathroom, and does indeed cost a mere $1,490 to own. It does, however, come with a few strings attached, according to Realtor.com®.

One major string is that the home is a limited-equity co-op or LEC. Realtor.com® describes this opportunity in a couple of steps with the help of Eva Seidelman, an attorney with the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in Washington, D.C.

First, the tenant of the building were originally renting. They decided to form a cooperative association in 2010 and purchase the building from the landlord by using a low-interest loan from the District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development.

This gave the tenants the ability to transform the building from the existing rental units into more affordable co-ops.

This brings us to our next step. In order to live in the building, the person must fall below the co-op’s maximum income limit of $60,839 for an individual, or $69,530 for a two-person household.

Since the medium income in Washington D.C. is around $75,628, a good portion of residents would qualify for this LEC.

Once you’ve paid your $1,490, plus taxes, transaction and broker fees, it doesn’t matter if you get a raise that’s puts you above the income limit, or lose your job completely, as you own the co-op.

Included in that price, in maintenance and repairs for as long as you live there. If you consider the average price to rent is approximately $1900/month and the average home sells for around $570,000, this LEC is a bargain.

As with anything else, it depends on whom you ask.

If you’re looking to build home equity, LECs are probably not for you. The appreciation on LECs remains fairly low, often because they are so affordable to begin with (less money invested, less to appreciate). However, of you’re looking for an affordable home in a less than affordable area, LECs can be amazing opportunities for homeownership.

LECs are a solid option for recent college graduates, people recovering from foreclosure, senior citizens, anyone re-entering the workforces or relocating for work or personal reasons, or anyone on a budget who would rather own than rent.

While LECs are not the spacious mansions of Hollywood Hills, they are a viable option for people looking to own, and given maintenance and repairs are often included, you cannot find a better option for a tight budget.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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